New Brunswick

New Brunswick health networks collaborate on drug trial to treat people with COVID-19

The Horizon Health Network and the Vitalité Health Network are working together on a drug trial to treat people with COVID-19 in New Brunswick.

Pharmacists and infectious disease specialists will test drug used to treat malaria

A box of Plaquenil, which will be used in a clinical trial for some COVID-19 patients in New Brunswick. (PHOTO: REUTERS / STEPHANE MAHE)

New Brunswick's two health authorities are collaborating on a drug trial to treat people with COVID-19 in the province.

New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says The Horizon Health Network and the Vitalité Health Network are working together.

Dr. Russell says Plaquenil, a drug used for the treatment of malaria, will be used on COVID-19 patients that meet certain criteria.

She says pharmacists and infectious disease specialists are now working out the details of the drug trial.

"They will have a registry to track the patient's results and it is a clinical trial, so my understanding is they're meeting with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists this week to present the project." Russell said.

"My understanding is they're still working out the operational procedures on how to secure medication for the trial and how to ensure safe medication dispensing to patients."

Dr. Gabriel Girouard is a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital Centre in Moncton. ((CBC))

Dr. Gabriel Girouard, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Health Centre tells Radio-Canada, said patients who meet pre-established criteria will be able to give their consent to take part in the study, They would be taking a drug that, while approved by Health Canada for use in this country, it is not yet approved for treating COVID-19.

Dr. Girouard said several studies are underway in Canada and around the world.

"What is unique in New Brunswick is that as a group of specialists, we have agreed to treat patients in the community early, and treatment is available to those who meet certain criteria, such as age, comorbidity or clinical (criteria)." Dr. Girouard said.

The drug, hydroxychloroquine, better known as Plaquenil, is also used to treat autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

With files from Nicolas Steinbach

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